Cinema is one of those art forms that have the power to grab your attention and make you feel connected. And, if the story is told in your language and set in your milieu, the connection only gets deeper.
Goan filmmaker, Suyash Kamat’s new short film, Sadabahar, makes this connection in a very profound way. It speaks about a five-member music band, who are jobless and try to feel at home in Goa, the place they migrated to.
This short film is among the top ten short films selected from across the country for a competition, titled Take Ten, by Netflix and Film Companion to discover and support emerging Indian filmmakers from varied backgrounds.
The short film of approx 13-minute duration was released on November 1, 2022 on Netflix India’s YouTube channel and it has received more than 64,000 views so far.
As the movie is about a music band, Suyash has used music as a binder that brings people together. “Music doesn’t have language. When we are talking about insider/outsider or language, music goes beyond that. These band members have one identity, but when they play, it is beyond their identity. I felt that music is the communicator or the common ground where they both come and meet. And, it is not just music, but art in itself,” explains Suyash.
This film which is part of the Take Ten competition is centered on the theme of home. However, Suyash had to go through a long process to get selected. “Before this selection, we were told to make a short film on the theme ‘My India’. For this, I made one film which was also about identity. It was about a couple who fake their identity to get a flat,” informs Suyash.
THE SELECTION PROCESS
For this competition, the organisers received a whopping 1,500 entries. Out of these, they selected 200 entries initially and then 50 entries were allowed to pitch online, where they had to give all the details like the story, location, music, milieu, etc.
“At this time of pitching, I was in Mysore as I was assisting on a film. I was working for almost 16 hours a day and had no time to prepare. Also, I had no internet connection to go online and pitch. However, I managed to pitch amidst all the challenges with lots of help from friends and social media,” says Suyash.
After this pitching, his film was selected among the top 20, where they had to submit their full script and then, out of these, 10 were finally selected. This whole process took around six months. The film was shot in three days, with a budget of around ₹ 7 lakh. Also, before they start filming, all the 10 filmmakers of the competition had a week-long filmmaking workshop by film industry experts.
For Suyash, this was one of the best experiences as they learned about filmmaking as a whole. “Some of them even shared their personal e-mails in order to contact them in future. That was great!” says Suyash.
He further added that there was no criteria on language or location. But, as a Goan filmmaker, it was obvious for him to set his film in Goa and in the Konkani language.
SUPPORTING LOCAL CINEMA
Looking at the response his film has been receiving, especially from Goans, makes him happy and elated as people have connected to this movie on different levels.
Suyash, who is doing his post-graduation at SRFTI (Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute) at Kolkata, is now focused on finishing his course which was halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On a concluding note, when asked about the challenges to the young Goan filmmaker, he stated that there was a need to make more films in order to understand where Goan films stand when it comes to regional cinema as a whole.
He opines that the biggest drawback is film financing in Goa. “The problem is that Goa doesn’t have a wider audience, and also, we still don’t have that cinema viewing culture in Goa compared to Marathi cinema.”
Suyash also asserted that there was enough young talent in Goa who are from film school and are making short films, like Barkha Naik, Heramb Kirtany, Akshay Parvatkar, to name a few.
He further suggested that there should be some financial help, either, from the state government or some CSR initiative from private bodies, who can support and nurture film-making and film-viewing culture in Goa.
Suyash gave example of the Kerala government as he believes that it is extremely involved in promoting cinema culture. “They are very serious about it and I have seen it when my short film, Written in the Corners, was selected as part of the short film festival. The amount of respect they give to filmmakers is worth mentioning. Also, they have Beena Paul (acclaimed film editor) in the governing body of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK).”
He also opined that there are many films, especially short films, which are based and are about Goa, but are not made by Goan filmmakers. “If I make such short films, at least I will be more authentic about it. But, for me to get that chance, there should be exposure about Goan filmmakers who are doing such work.”
He also pointed out that it is next to impossible to make a full-time career in acting or filmmaking in Goa. “Most of the actors in my film are theatre actors who do day jobs — some are teachers, journalists, etc. They are passionate about acting. They just need a platform to perform.”
He is now hopeful with this Take Ten competition as it had two Goan films—Suyash’s Sadabahar and Barkha Naik’s Salt. He feels that people are now curious to know more about Goa, its language, people, etc thanks to this exposure.
Suyash Kamat’s short-film, ‘Sadabahar’ is available for viewing on Netflix India’s YouTube channel